Vigil for June Harvey one year on from Bow crane tragedy

Upturned cab of the toppled 60ft crane at Watts Grove building site that crashed onto homes in Compton Close 

Upturned cab of the toppled 60ft crane at Watts Grove building site that crashed onto homes in Compton Close - Credit: Mike Brooke

Families are holding a vigil on Thursday to mark the first anniversary of the day a crane crashed into their homes and killed 85-year-old June Harvey.

June Harvey, 85, killed when 60ft crane crashed through her bedroom ceiling

June Harvey, 85, killed when 60ft crane crashed through her bedroom ceiling - Credit: Atkinson family

June’s niece Jacqueline Atkinson and grand-nephew Sam were both also injured when a 60ft crane crashed through their roof, and they are demanding answers a year after the collapse at the Watts Grove construction site in Bromley-by-Bow.   

They had to live in a hotel for six months until January, when support groups and friends rallied to make a temporary home fit for habitation. 

60ft crane that sliced through rooftops in Compton Close on July 8, 2020.

60ft crane that sliced through rooftops in Compton Close on July 8, 2020. - Credit: Advertiser reader Sid Rahman

“Their lives have been turned upside down,” their lawyer Helen Clifford said. “They still don’t know what went wrong or why."

The toppled crane was removed last December — but the collapse is still being investigated by police and the Health and Safety Executive. 


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The families and neighbours of Compton Close are calling for quicker action by the Crown Prosecution Service.  

“It’s so callous that bereaved families have years of legal nightmares,” the lawyer added.

Thursday’s first anniversary vigil for June Harvey is being held outside her wrecked house by neighbours and relatives, and has been organised by Families Against Corporate Killers and the Construction Safety Campaign pressure groups.

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They are calling for better crane safety rules “so no-one else is killed”. 

June Harvey was in her bedroom when the crane crashed through the roof.  

Her great-nephew Sam later recalled the noise “so loud that I thought a plane had crashed”.  

He said at the time: “I was screaming for my mum and my aunt and tried pushing through the rubble, but it was impossible. The whole house was crumbling around me.” 

The terrace of six cottages in Compton Close took the brunt of the incident, injuring three others, including a building site worker who was operating the crane when it toppled. 

Compton Close had to be evacuated and the families spent months in a hotel B&B

June Harvey's neighbours evacuated after crane toppled who were put up in temporary hotel b&b

June Harvey's neighbours who were evacuated after the crane toppled and were put up in temporary hotel B&B - Credit: Mike Brooke

One neighbour who escaped injury, care worker Tracy Clachar, was given a temporary home in a tower block in Poplar, but felt nervous as there was scaffolding on the adjoining block which was having cladding removed — another reminder of poor housing safety. 

She is still in temporary accommodation today, a year on from the tragedy. 

Poplar and Limehouse MP Apsana Begum, whose constituency includes Compton Close, demanded tougher measures for operating construction site cranes during a Commons debate in March called to discuss safety regulations after the tragedy.  

MP Apsana Begum who raised issue of crane dangers and deregulation in the Commons following Compton Close tragedy

MP Apsana Begum who raised issue of crane dangers and deregulation in the Commons following Compton Close tragedy - Credit: Mike Brooke

She urged MPs: “We need robust legislation and enforcement as deregulation trends are widespread.”  

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